In less than a minute, Ashiek Ajim instantly became one of the top prospects to watch at 135 pounds.
Ajim, the Queens, NY, native, needed just 44 seconds to capture the vacant CES MMA World Bantamweight Championship Friday night at Ballys Twin River Lincoln Casino Resort, submitting Mongolian Azjavkhlan Baatar via guillotine in the main event of CES 69 live on UFC FIGHT PASS®.
Seven months after his last win in the CES cage, Ajim caught Baatar in a mounted guillotine and secured the choke as both fighters crashed to the canvas, forcing Bataar to tap in just under a minute.
Ajim, who spoke earlier in the week about being on the verge of possibly getting the call to the UFC, has now won three in a row since suffering his lone career loss at CES 61 in 2020 after taking down the dangerous Bataar, who entered the weekend fresh off a big win over Johnny Campbell at CES 67. Ajim improved to 6-1 with Friday’s win while Bataar is now 8-7.
In the co-main event, homecoming king Mike Rodriguez of Springfield, MA, made quick work of challenger Jeremy May of Vero Beach, FL, earning the victory via TKO due to strikes at 3:25 in the opening round.
Rodriguez, who went 6-2 with CES before earning his shot with the UFC in 2017, won for the first time since August of 2020. The 6-foot-4 light heavyweight fought eight times for the UFC over the span of four years, earning notable wins over Marcin Prachnio and Adam Milstead. Rodriguez is now 12-7 following Friday’s win.
Fighting for the third time in four months, Gilford, CT, bantamweight Harris Bonfiglio stayed hot Friday with a first-round submission win over regional rival Richie Santiago of Milford, MA. Bonfiglio won his third consecutive bout, forcing Santiago to tap via armbar at 4:56 of the opening round. Bonfiglio is now 5-1 overall.
Other main card results included:
- Russian light heavyweight Yuri Panferov (3-0) of New Haven, CT, defeated Jerell Nettles (0-1) of Colorado via rear-naked choke at 3:04 of Round 1
- Lightweight Dion Rubio (3-0) of Pawtucket, RI, defeated New York’s Sam Watford (2-3) via guillotine at 1:58 of Round 3
- Southampton, MA, featherweight Nathan Ghareeb (6-1) defeated Javon Wright (6-6) via TKO (strikes) at :30 of Round 1
- Featherweight Tyrime Da Silva (3-0) of Pawtucket, RI, defeated Vermont’s Josh Hardy (1-4) via rear-naked choke at :41 of Round 1